Ugo Monye Interview: 'I hope England have a plan that enables the players to show off the talent we’ve seen in the Premiership'

The standard of the Premiership this season has delighted Monye and he hopes it can filter into the Six Nations
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With the 2024 Six Nations just around the corner, the Gallagher Premiership’s pause button has been pressed after a breathless weekend of action.

A huge win for Bristol Bears over Bath in one of the games of the season topped the billing while there were crucial victories for Leicester Tigers, Saracens and Gloucester.

And then the Saints continued to march on with their fine form keeping Northampton on top of the tree.

As a huge block of domestic rugby comes to an end, TNT Sports pundit and former England international Ugo Monye shared his thoughts with TRU.

“Fans like seeing jeopardy and a highly competitive league and that’s what we have seen. It’s been amazing and the brand of rugby which we have seen has been amazing.

“It is the most competitive league that I think we have seen in quite a long time.”

There is no question that the rugby on the pitch has been superb this season and that has bled into a sense of optimism around England and what Steve Borthwick’s side can produce in the Six Nations.

“I’m really excited about this squad and I hope that we have a game plan that enables the players to show off the talent and skill we’ve seen in the Premiership,” adds Monye.

This game plan is hopefully an attacking one that could resemble the current top two sides in the Premiership in Northampton and Harlequins, teams known for their ability to score tries.

Some in-form players who Monye would love to see is Northampton’s Tommy Freeman who he said has been “outstanding whether at outside centre or on the wing”. He also gave credit to the performances of fellow Saint Fin Smith and Fraser Dingwall.

The latter two could be in line for their England debuts against Italy in Rome on Saturday following the injuries to OIlie Lawrence and Marcus Smith, with Fin Smith seemingly ready to step into the England 10 shirt given the 21-year-old’s displays in the Premiership and Champions Cup this term.

There is the prospect of seeing Northampton’s combination at 9,10 and 12 that has been tearing up the Premiership this season but there are fresh concerns about the fitness of scrum-half Alex Mitchell who is struggling with an infected wound in his leg.

One star player who will definitely be missing for England, despite his excellent performance last Saturday in Saracens’ important Premiership win over Exeter Chiefs, is Owen Farrell after his withdrawal from the international game and the news that he is off to play his rugby in Paris next year.

“He’s been an unbelievable servant to the game domestically and internationally”, says Monye. “He will go down as one of the greatest England players of all time. He’s a figurehead of our sport and he’ll be sorely missed as he is one of the world's best.”

Farrell’s absence from the England set-up does give the chance for younger players to get their shot, which could be the case this weekend for the uncapped Fin Smith who may well have the edge over Sale’s George Ford to start in Rome.

Another way England are looking to develop their younger players is through the return of the England ‘A’ side who will play Portugal next month.

Having played for the ‘A’ side - formerly known as the England Saxons - during his own career, Monye is full of support for the reintroduction of the fixture.

“It has been a missing piece within the pyramid of English rugby, especially with the large playing pool. It can be a chance for players to be in some way rewarded for their Premiership form and break into the international game. It is such a leap from prem to international and England ‘A’ acts as a place for the players to get up to the pace of the game and the training.”

For all of the exciting young talent currently away with the senior squad such as Immaunel Feyi-Waboso, Chandler Cunningham-South and the aforementioned Fin Smith, a player who Monye would love to see get their opportunity with England ‘A’ is Cadan Murley.

Monye describes him as an “international in waiting” and believes he could have featured in Borthwick’s original squad if it wasn’t for an injury that he recently returned from

With the Premiership being so entertaining and clubs going well in Europe - combined with the sensational form of England players in these sides - the next few months could be a very exciting prospect for the national team.

Moyne echoed that his “overriding emotion is excitement” when looking at this England squad and you get the sense some England fans are also on the same wavelength.

Does that point towards some potential success for England in the Six Nations? Let’s wait and see.

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